A Better Way to Wed

wedding table

I have this theory about why so many marriages fail.  Actually, I have several theories (please refer to Why Marry? and Why Marry? continued)…

So, one of my other theories has to do with the way we treat weddings- as a society:

  • When a couple decides to marry, they throw an engagement party (yay!)
  • The pending matrimony is announced in the newspapers (fame!)
  • Then, sometime before the wedding, someone throws another party for the Bride (yay!)
  • As well, someone throws a party for the Groom (hurray!)
  • The couple instructs everyone what gifts to buy them by registering at their favorite stores (presents!)
  • All the girls go buy pretty new dresses!  And shoes!  And sticky bras (yay x3!)
  • Professional primpers are brought in to make sure everyone looks flawless (glamor!)
  • A professional picture person is hired to capture every glorious moment (paparazzi!)
  • Exclusive transportation is retained so the captivating couple can travel in style (yay!)
  • A fabulous mountain of pre-approved gifts grows as guests enter the reception (yay!)
  • Mr. and Mrs. X dance the night away among their adoring friends and family (awww!)
  • The big hurrah is followed up with an extravagant honeymoon- romance abounds (woo hoo!)

… But that’s not what marriage is about.

The special day comes and goes.  Mr. and Mrs. X return from their honeymoon to a mountain of bills, the obligation to write 231 thank-you cards, work, expectations, 3 sets of dishes, 2 blenders, 4 coffee makers, a new Family Roster, and a bunch of people asking when the “bun” will be put in the “oven”.

By the time the former Bride gets around to posting their overpriced pictures on Facebook, the rest of the world has moved on and the few compliments she gets pale in comparison to the droves of people who turned out to worship her on her wedding day.  And now the former Groom’s friends want him to tell them about the bikini-clad blondes he saw on the beach… And soon the wife is nagging her husband to pick his wet towels off the bathroom floor… Where did all the good times go?

The way we do marriage, we are set up for failure.  Think about it: the cake, the toasts, the fantasy-coming-true… Nothing gets any better than that!  At least, not with a typical All-American Material Mindset.  It’s all downhill from there…

Ah, but I’d like to propose a solution:  a change in procedures, to ensure a more realistic outlook and firm commitment from the participants.  I’d like to suggest that couples who plan to wed be required to give away 50% of their money and possessions.  This act of charity will not only benefit those less fortunate, it will also cut down on the excess of coffee makers at the new marital homestead.  Additionally, it exhibits a willingness to sacrifice for your mate- an imperative component of any stable marriage.  Furthermore, I’d like to introduce a new ceremony:  the ceremonial fist fight in which the happy couple beats the hell out of each other while their friends and families are free to observe, cheer and throw things.  I realize this sounds harsh… but really, don’t people end up doing a lot worse to each other in a metaphorically similar forum as they tread through a less-than-blissful existence together?  (think of the phone calls to Mom, the arguments in front of the kids and the time you threw that wine bottle…).  No party afterward- no parties allowed until the one year anniversary.  Then go for broke- after it’s earned.

Under my New Plan, couples would think seriously before initiating or accepting a marriage proposal.  They would start out with less stuff—meaning, they’d need to work together to provide for each other.  They would begin their journey broken and bruised- learning immediately the importance of apologies and healing wounds instead of carving new ones.  Let’s start with the hard stuff and celebrate the actual accomplishments.  Really- it makes sense, doesn’t it?

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  1. I actually have very similar thoughts on this subject. I’m planning a post about why parents should forgo paying for the wedding and instead throw a 10-year anniversary party!

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  4. I think a lot of this depends on your social standing. My husband and I, after dating for 5 years, got married in my Greek Orthodox church and had a lovely reception. We got lots of presents, but I have to say that in 1975, people did not give the kinds of gifts that seem to be expected today. Give away half our stuff? I don’t know what social circles you run in, but most people I know, including my hubby and me, did not have any stuff to give away. We both came straight from our parents’ home to our home. Yes, hubby had saved a bit so that we could buy furniture without going into debt – and NO ONE went into debt for the wedding. We struggled in our early days, but it didn’t seem that way because we had nothing else to compare it to. We treated our marriage vows as sacred commitments and when problems arose, we dealt with them.No infidelity, no drugs, no therapists, just us talking things out with one another. Your story about your brief marriage to a man that you say you loved, but then say you hated seems childish and banal. I feel sorry for you.

    • Thanks for commenting, Cindy. As you noted, and I described above, much has changed since 1975. The average age of marriage is creeping toward 30 years old, thus individuals are no longer leaving their parents’ home to start a life together from scratch. These days people have more- often complete households- at the start of the marriage and can afford to sacrifice instead of collect gifts.

      My position here is a bit extreme and the post was meant to inspire people to think more critically about marriage (marriage. not weddings). In your case, you started with nothing and built a life together. It seems you and I agree that’s the way it should be.

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